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Woman Uses Billboard To Find Kidney Donor

10:57 AM, Sep 7, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Around the country, more than 100,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant.

Earlier this year, Kelly Fenzel was searching for a kidney with the help of a billboard. What she also found was support in the form of a Facebook group called "Dialysis Discussion Uncensored." That's where she met Tonya Hamilton, who suffers from stage 5 renal failure.

"Kelly and I connected because she's from Columbia, we talked back and forth on Facebook," Hamilton said.

The two ladies clicked, and stayed in touch even after Fenzel got her kidney and Hamilton started dialysis.

"It's seven days a week and it's eight and a half hours per session. So I do it at night we hook up at 10:00 during the weekdays because I still work," Hamilton said.

"Dialysis is a way to stay alive, but it's not a way to live. And I don't want Tanya to have to live that way," Fenzel said.

Hamilton has been on the waiting list at three medical centers for almost three years. But Fenzel had a different approach on how to find a donor match.

After her own experience with the billboard, she was able to get advertising space donated for Hamilton.

"I had someone call me and say, 'I saw a billboard with your picture on it,'" Hamilton said.

Now, Hamilton has three signs across town, asking people to see if they could be a match for her, after health issues ruled out her own family.

"I did offer, but even if I was she kept saying you're the caregiver you've got to be there with me, but if I could I definitely would," Hamilton's husband James said.

"I've had sisters and brothers tested and for some reason or another, high blood pressure. If you've had high blood pressure in the past you can't donate because you're at risk for kidney decline also," Hamilton said.

So far there have been a couple responses from the billboard.
And while that's great news for Hamilton, she's just as excited to have gained a true friend.

"I told her she's my inspiration so I really truly look up to her and appreciate everything with her," Hamilton said.

billboard, organ, donor

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